Research Project

Britt, Krystal

Migration, Interaction, and Community Formation in the Middle Little Colorado River Valley, Northern Arizona

Principal Investigator
Britt, Krystal
Funding Source
Rust Family Foundation


My project investigates the impact of small scale migration on community formation using the middle Little Colorado River valley of Northern Arizona as a case study. Beginning in the Pueblo III period (c. 1125-1275 C.E.) the American Southwest was impacted in rapid succession by the collapse of the widespread Chacoan cultural system, the onset of the Great Drought, and unpredictable environmental cooling (Adler 1996; Cameron and Duff 2008; Dean et al. 1985; Varien 1999, 2010). Entire regions were depopulated and migration increased drastically with many sites occupied for less than a generation (Bernardini 2011; Nelson and LeBlanc 1986; Schachner 2012). My research focuses on intraregional interaction in order to understand the impacts of such reorganization and migration at the community level. The proposed project focuses on contemporaneous Pueblo III period sites located in the middle Little Colorado River valley. During this period the region experienced an influx of migrants from a variety of cultural and geographic backgrounds, providing a unique opportunity to examine how groups negotiated the social environment during periods of widespread population movement. Funding through the Rust Family Foundation will be used to conduct petrographic analysis on ceramics from Pueblo III sites located in the middle Little Colorado River valley, resulting in the development of a robust data set pertaining to ceramic production practices in the region and shedding light on how migrants navigated a changing social environment. This research will build upon emerging methodological approaches to material culture production practices and expand our understanding of community formation in the past while contributing to future compositional studies. My research will also help to refine migration models and align them with new perspectives on identity, speaking to the role of social interaction and fluid group identity as resiliency strategies in the past